It's not easy finding a unique kids birthday party activity in Fairfield County. Sure, there is My Three Sons and Pump It Up but what if your kid doesn't want to jump around or collect coins? What if you just want something with more food science and less bouncy castle? With the emergence of the Food Network's 24/7 culinary programming, kids have been acquiring valuable cooking tips during their sick days and developing an interest in all things related to food. In fact, so many of our readers are looking for "cooking themed birthday parties" we decided we had best do some research. What better way to acquire data than to host a cooking party for my five year old daughter chez moi. Read on for Cooking Parties for Kids, Part 1.
In deciding who to call for this special day, I did my homework and found a local chef specializing in children's cooking classes and birthday parties; Cindy Hartog of Cindy's Sous Chefs. Cindy has an eclectic background that makes her uniquely qualified for this line of work. Sure she has a culinary degree, but she also has formal training in acting, and taught pre-school in Westport for 14 years. Who better to entertain and educate a posse of unruly kids?
Cindy is happy to hold the big event at her house or your own, and if you decide to stay at su casa, no need to worry about a mess in your house. Cindy, and her two delightful daughters bring all the necessary gear and ingredients, and they clean up before they leave. It is every bit as easy as hosting your party at My Three Sons.
Cindy's web site touted not only a hands on kitchen experience for the guests, but some "dramatic play" as well. Cindy has a variety of party themes including a Mexican Fiesta, Japanese Blow-out, and Chocolate Buffet. Some are more or less appropriate depending on the age of your child, but most of these feature a mock TV cooking show where the guests get transformed into a live audience, and the birthday boy or girl gets interviewed talk show style by Cindy. The kids love it! Whatever theme you select, the star of the day becomes Cindy's sous chef and is made to feel very special.
For this rather youthful group we went for the Victorian English Tea Party with a "trip to England." This journey included hand-on cooking of chocolate dipped strawberries, scones, teapot cookies and a full tea service in real English china. I spent some time wondering how exactly we were making this cross Atlantic trip while avoiding the destruction of all her china with this rowdy group, but Cindy had it all figured out.
She and her two daughters (who often help out with large groups) arrived about a half hour before the party and very quickly set up. When the twelve 5 years old guests arrived, Cindy gave a brief overview on the day's activities, and immediately got them to work dipping gigantic strawberries into molten chocolate. Cindy is remarkable with children and made the guests feel comfortable and fully engaged, much like a family cooking together. Everybody took turns mixing the ingredients for the scones, and then had some real work…whipping the cream. While the scones baked, Cindy put magic (candy) necklaces on the girls and donned a costume fit for any proper 19th Century English tea party. In her Victorian garb she led them through an imaginative voyage across the ocean, a dramatic castle rescue, and then sat them down for tea, scones, and chocolatey berries.
For the duration of the party, Cindy kept in perfect character (this is where her acting training comes in handy). Everyone spoke in an English accent, drank tea out of tine china cups with pinkies in the air, spoke politely, and had a generally splendid time. The kids savored the rewards of their team work, and finished off the party by decorating gigantic teapot shaped cookies to take home with them. Every activity was smoothly executed, and before you knew it, the kids had magically travelled back to Westport.
Smiles were abundant as the party dispersed, and I think the adults enjoyed watching just as much as the kids enjoyed participating (see above photo for proof).
A Cindy's Sous Chefs party costs $500 for a party of 10 children and includes beautiful goody bags. Additional guests are $40 a person. Cindy's Sous Chefs also does wonderful holiday workshops, cooking classes, and cooking camps.
For more information on Cindy's Sous Chefs, check out her web site.
SPECIAL FOR CTBITES READERS:
Cindy is offering a $10 discount on her Cinco de Mayo Class on Wednesday May 5 from 5-6:30.
This class is normally priced at $50, but if you mention CTBites, she will discount it to $40 per child. Your child will make flour tortillas from scratch, beginning with the ingredients for the dough itself. Then they will get to use the tortilla press turning these handmade tortillas into quessadillas. Continue on to nacho chips, quacamole, virgin margaritas in a glass you get to take home, finished off with mexican chocolate lava cakes. Each child, in addition to the glass, will get a sample of authentic mexican chocolate to take home.